Texas Tech football: Matt Wells’ best games as Utah State head coach

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 03: Head coach Matt Wells of the Utah State Aggies looks at a replay during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 3, 2014 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images )
PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 03: Head coach Matt Wells of the Utah State Aggies looks at a replay during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 3, 2014 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images ) /
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(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) /

As Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells prepares for his first season in Lubbock, let’s look back on his best games at Utah State.

When Matt Wells’ name began to surface as a leading candidate in last fall’s coaching search, most Texas Tech football fans had never heard of the 45-year-old Utah State head coach.  And that was a huge reason that most were initially against his hiring.

We all prefer that which we are familiar with or at least have some knowledge of.  Thus the reason that Red Raider fans were hoping for candidates such as West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Troy’s Neal Brown, or UNT’s Seth Littrell, is that all have coached at Tech at one time or another.

But after just a few months on the job, Wells has been able to ingratiate himself to the Texas Tech fan base and the community of Lubbock.  Intentionally going to great lengths to let his new constituency see who he is as both a coach and a person, Wells has won over many skeptics thanks to a personality and value system that seems tailor-made for West Texas.

The Salisaw, OK native is finding that life on the Llano Estacado is reminiscent of the world he knew growing up in a town of 8,000 people 94 miles southeast of Tulsa.  And that appears to be one of the reasons he was willing to leave his alma mater to take the Texas Tech job.

"“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Wells told Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World. “It’s humbling every day. I’m excited to be back near home recruiting in a very familiar territory with relationships that I have with Texas and Oklahoma high school coaches.”"

Of course, the $3 million annual salary likely also played a huge role in his decision as well as the opportunity to take the helm of a Power 5 program.  But money aside, Wells appears to have already fallen in love with Texas Tech as he proved to be a regular at Tech baseball and basketball games this spring.

But Red Raider fans still may not know much about Wells as a football coach.  After playing QB at Utah State, he coached QBs and wide receivers at Navy from 1997-2001.  He then was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa from 2002-07.

For the next two years at New Mexico, he coached wide receivers before spending the 2009 season at Louisville where he coached QBs.  In 2010, he was back in Albuquerque to coach receivers for the Lobos.

Then, in 2011 he returned to Utah State where he was the offensive coordinator until 2013 when he took over for Gary Andersen who left for Wisconsin.   During his six years as head coach of USU, he went 44-34 twice winning the Mountain West Coach of the Year award (2013, 2018) and leading his team to the conference title game in 2014.

In his six seasons in charge in Logan, the Aggies reached a bowl game in all but one year, 2016.  In those games, USU went 3-2 (including the 2018 New Mexico Bowl win over UNT that Wells did not coach in after taking over in Lubbock).

But because he lost the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2017 Arizona Bowl, he had a run of three-straight losing seasons in the middle of his first head coaching stint, something that many Red Raider fans were quick to point to as a reason they were not happy with his resume.

However, there is a bit more context needed to understand those three seasons.  To begin with, Wells’ team lost five total games to Power 5 teams during that three-year run.   Every year, USU played at least one Power 5 team, something that certainly helped the university’s athletic budget but also toughened up the Aggies as a football team.  Had Wells been playing teams of the same caliber as Utah State, he would have likely avoided a losing record in 2015 and 2017.

If most Red Raider fans understood the type of schedule Utah State played, they might be a bit more confident in Wells’ ability to rebuild the Texas Tech football program.  But most Tech fans spend about as much time watching Utah State football as they spend reading books on advanced quantum physics.  So because most of us do not have much insight about the type of teams Wells put on the field at Utah State, let’s take a look at his team’s five best performances.